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Big crowd for blowout
Event gets kids, parents ready for start of school
inside crowd 1
The size of past crowds led the Effingham Connect to move its back-to-school blowout to the Effingham County High School, and a line of people wrapped around the gym to get in for school supplies, birth certificates, haircuts, face painting and more last Tuesday.

First-day forecast
Temperatures and conditions expected for Effingham County students in the morning and afternoon for the first day of school:

• 7 a.m.-76 degrees, partly cloudy, 13 percent chance of rain
• 8 a.m.-77 degrees, partly cloudy, 0 percent chance of rain
• 3 p.m.-93 degrees, partly cloudy, heat index 104 degrees

With the start of the 2015-16 school year imminent, the annual Effingham Connect back-to-school blowout drew thousands of parents and children to the Effingham County High School gym.

The event, now in its fourth year, was moved to the ECHS gym from the Effingham County Recreation and Parks gym less than two miles away because of the size of the crowd. But even the new venue was overflowing with people stocking up on school supplies, getting haircuts and faces painted and even getting checked to see if backpacks are too burdensome.

“The idea is to be a one-stop,” said Destiny Bradshaw, program of the United Way of Effingham County’s e-Connect. “They can get birth certificate. The school system is here to sign people up for a free and reduced lunch. A chiropractor is seeing if backpacks are too heavy for kids’ spines.”

Several businesses and organizations, including the Live Oak Public Library System, Jumping Jacks Family Fun Center, Amerigroup and Walmart, had information and school supplies to dispense to waiting families.

Without the event, Bradshaw said, “many of the families who go back to school wouldn’t have the proper supplies they need.”

There were raffles every 15 minutes and also free food available for the crowd.

“I am thankful the school board has been a part of this,” Bradshaw said. “Without the partnerships, without everyone coming together, this could not happen.”